When I was small, no one told me about The Box.
I was led to believe that life was play. I drifted happily about in my imagination, sometimes twirling around in my red leotard, other times sitting in my room with my diary, or arranging my pocket money into piles and gleefully announcing that I would one day be a millionaire.
But as I grew through my teens and into early adulthood, the existence of The Box became clear. It’s funny though because no one ever actually sat me down and explicitly told me about The Box.
By my mid twenties, I found that I’d somehow managed to clamber into The Box. I’m not quite sure how that happened. I didn’t like it.
One day, I decided to open the lid of The Box and climb back out. People inside The Box seemed freaked out but as I stood on the edge, ready to jump, I was hit by a blast of fresh air. Woah, this felt good!
I loved life outside The Box, more than you can possibly imagine. Every day was an adventure. I was like that little girl again, full of wonder and curiosity and excitement. It was also a little scary because nothing felt certain or secure. But this is also what made it exhilarating.
There were things I missed about being in The Box. For instance, there was a lot of love and approval in there and I really longed for those things. Oh, how I longed for them! But I found that no matter how much I longed for the things that were in The Box, they were never enough to make me climb back inside.
Over the years, some people in The Box tried to make me feel bad for leaving. And I did feel bad because I still longed for the love and approval I’d felt inside. I wanted the people inside The Box to bless my choice and understand me.
I never got what I wanted.
Very, very, very slowly, I started to learn that I had to let go of needing the people inside The Box to understand why it was so important to me to live outside it.
I started to learn that I could approve of myself. I could love myself. I could trust myself.
Sometimes I still dream of what it would feel like to be wrapped in blessings and encouragement from the people in The Box. I don’t know if that dream will ever fully leave me.
But I also know that if the people inside The Box could peek inside my heart and see how much being inside The Box hurt me, they would understand why I’ve made the choices I’ve made.
In 2022 I plan on having my most fun yet living outside The Box. I also plan to give heaps and heaps of encouragement to others on the outside because encouragement is what I’ve always found most helpful.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even buy myself a red leotard and put on a show.
P.S. To my black sheep, my naughty rebels, my fellow misfits…your own approval is all you need. This is hard work. But oh so worth it. Slowly, slowly we learn.